Internships are academic experiences designed to provide students with opportunities to apply and develop their skills and knowledge while exploring specific career interests. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths as well as give employers the opportunity to evaluate and develop their talent. While internships provide experience in the professional setting, searching for an internship provides solid practice for your future job search, so treat it as such. As you search for internship opportunities, we suggest you follow these steps:
International Student Internships:International students interested in pursuing an internship should contact Jenny Humphries in the International Student Services Office for approval as a first step in an internship search.
Faculty are your number one resource. Talk with your faculty advisor about your career interests as well as the expectations for internships within your academic department to help you begin searching for opportunities that satisfy both. Ask faculty to help you connect with potential internship opportunities they are aware of as well as students currently or previously serving in internships that match your interests. Find out what other students’ experiences were like, and use this information to help you align with opportunities designed for you.
Critical components of an internship include reflection, evaluation and feedback throughout a pre-determined time frame. It is essential for supervision to be facilitated by an appropriately trained professional in the respective field, acting as a mentor who works with the student in the development of clearly defined learning outcomes. A student’s role throughout the internship experience should complement rather than replace existing site employees (The Fair Labor Standards Act US Wage and Hour Division, 2010). Additionally, all students are expected to adhere to the Gardner-Webb University student code of conduct throughout their internship.
If you want your internship to fulfill your PRE requirement, you’ll need to either register for the PRE approved internship course in your major, or be approved for the non-credit bearing PRE Internship by the faculty member supervising your experience and the Center for Personal and Professional Development. If you choose to register for the course in your major, you’ll need to determine the appropriate credit hours you will earn with your faculty advisor. Learn more about the PRE.
Many students find internship and job opportunities through people they already know. This is a great example of how professional networking happens. Networking is the life-long process of building strategic mutually beneficial professional relationships to effectively further your career goals. You were already networking well before college with through relationships you developed growing up, and you’ve continued to network as you developed new relationships with students and faculty here. Each of these people provide connections to other people and opportunities that you may benefit from.
Use your internship search to practice networking by beginning to leverage these relationships to find internship opportunities. For example, if you’re planning to do your internship over the summer in your hometown, you’ll need to focus your search toward opportunities in that area. Share your intentions with your hometown network including your parents, former teachers, coaches, church family etc. to allow them to help you connect with opportunities they may know of. Your local chamber of commerce website may be your best resource for locating companies in your area that are most likely to offer internships. As a general rule, larger established companies tend to offer the most opportunities, but make sure your faculty advisor and department approve of the experience before you commit to it.
The Center for Personal and Professional Development is always here to assist you in your search. Though we do not have the ability to place you in an internship, we can help you explore options and search with your primary needs in mind. Our Webb Works system linked below includes internship positions as well as professional positions. The additional link below provides a wide array of internship opportunities you can explore and apply for. Anytime you need our assistance or would like to meet face to face, simply email us at [email protected].
For most internships, you’ll apply with an application form and a resume as you would for a professional position, so make sure your resume is up to date and has been reviewed by our office before submitting it. When applying, follow all the directions the employer gives to make sure you’ve provided everything they’ve requested in a timely fashion such as reference letters or reference contact info.
Before accepting any internship position, make sure your faculty advisor or academic department approves of it to ensure you get the credit you’re expecting. To use the experience to meet your PRE requirement, you’ll need to register for the corresponding PRE course before you begin. You also need to make sure you understand all the expectations placed on you in the position by both your academic department and the employer. You’ll need to work closely with your supervising faculty member for this. Read the job description and qualifications carefully, and ask for clarity on anything you need it on such as dress code, time commitment, schedule etc. before committing. Also, let our office know where you’ll be interning so we can document your experience.
Become an expert on internships so that you can be an expert professional. Recommended readings are listed below: